Pork Shoulder Blade Roast (“Boston Butt”) — Sous-vide

I’ve read so much about the ultra-long cooking times for some sous-vide recipes that I was anxious to find a cut of meat where I could experiment with a long, slow cook. So, borrowing a page from my BBQ cookbooks, I bought a pork shoulder blade roast at the local Safeway for the rock bottom price of $1.29/lb. and decided to experiment.

I used some Bone Sucking Rib Rub, garlic, salt, pepper and garlic olive oil as a rub the night before, and then put the vacuum-sealed roast in at 163F. After about 7 hours the roast was moist & worthy of serving as barbeque–without the smokey flavor unfortunately. It made a great main course for dinner.

Then I decided to push a little further and see if I could get some great “pulled pork” by keeping the rest of the roast in the bath. I cranked the temperature up to 202F and after a couple more hours the pork was practically falling apart. Texture-wise it was great. Of course we were still missing the smokey flavor. Smothering the pork in BBQ sauce went a long way to dealing with the lack of smoke, although I’ll be trying some other options for flavoring in future.

 –David

 

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January 23, 2006. Technique.

14 Comments

  1. j smith replied:

    try smoking the meat before cooking and keeping the temp lower for a longer period of time

  2. Larry Carlile replied:

    Seasoning the meat with smoked salt would possibly work as well.

  3. matt replied:

    The smoking gun is used to inject smoke into the bag.

    http://www.cuisinetechnology.com/thesmokinggun.html

  4. Heather replied:

    I find that a couple drop of liquid smoke goes a really long way to incorporating smoky goodness where it can’t be gained the old-fashioned way.

  5. Tim H. Royal replied:

    Since you all love pork butt, go the extra mile and during the smoking, cooking process baste it with a vinegar based basting solution which you can find on the web under N.C. Barbeque. Then pull the pork and serve with cole slaw on cheap burger buns, don’t get fancy or it won’t be authentic. A side dish of string beans cooked with ham hock till it falls apart is also appropriate. Serve a Bananna Pudding for desert. For fun, have a splash of Southern Comfort while cooking.
    This is not a tomatoe based sauce. The recipe is from the Northern near coastal part of N.C.and is unique to that part of the country. For truly real BBQ, go to Ralph’s BBQ. in Roanoke Rapids N.C., (Use only Hickory to smoke the pork.) on the old highway to Weldon The further west you go the heavier the sauces with tomatoe

  6. Tim H. Royal replied:

    Since you all love pork butt, go the extra mile and during the smoking, cooking process, baste it with a vinegar based basting solution which you can find on the web under N.C. Barbeque. Then pull the pork and serve with cole slaw on cheap burger buns, don’t get fancy or it won’t be authentic. A side dish of string beans cooked with ham hock till it falls apart is also appropriate. Serve a Bananna Pudding for desert. For fun, have a splash of Southern Comfort while cooking.
    This is not a tomatoe based sauce. The recipe is from the Northern near coastal part of N.C.and is unique to that part of the country. For truly real BBQ, go to Ralph’s BBQ. in Roanoke Rapids N.C., (Use only Hickory to smoke the pork.) on the old highway to Weldon The further west you go the heavier the sauces with tomatoe

  7. janie replied:

    try adding a little liquid smoke. careful though, if you put too much, it will be bitter. I think the brand is Kitchen Bouquet

  8. Mary replied:

    I have been using smoked pepper on brisket and short ribs with a very positive result.

  9. AJ replied:

    After reading the Boston Butt replies about the lack smoke flavor, I have had great results with foods cooked in traditional ways using sweet smoked paprika. It imparts a true smoky flavor and a bit of flavor from the paprika as well. It works well in all rubs and, to me, is not bitter. I can’t wait to try it sous vide when I get my cooker set up which I am looking forward to doing this weekend.

    Give it a try and let me know what you think.

  10. John Biswanger replied:

    Cold smoking the meat before doing your sous vide process is the answer to geing the real smoke flavor profile you are looking for. I have found a great cold smoke generator, it is called the smokedaddy, look at it: smokedaddyinc.com
    Smoke the meat (cold smoke not heat,) for 2 hours.

    • sousvide replied:

      John–You can see from my latest post I’ve definitely gone to the 3 step process you suggested although I’m trying to use 48 hours at 148 but same basic idea.–David

  11. David Rule replied:

    Hi AJ,

    Last weekend I did ribs sous vide with Liquid smoke. I used 1 tablespoon of Wrights concentrated liquid hickory smoke with 1/2 cup of olive oil and and approximately 1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder to emulsify the olive oil and smoke together. Into the vacuum bag they went. My guests could not tell that I had not pre-smoked the meat, turned out great. Not too smoky, just right. The mustard powder was done by adding and whisking until the liquid smoke and oil all combined happily so that will take a little experimenting. The mustard flavor was not discernible in the finished product, compared to the smoke.

    David

  12. Rusty replied:

    I brine for several hours, cold smoke for 2 hours, rub it in brown sugar, garlic, paprika, onions, chili powder, mustard powder, cumin, and cinnamon. Then sous vide for 24 hours at 160 degrees. Blew my mind. Tasted like I had smoked it for 12 hours, meat falls off the bone. Ribs and shoulder, amazing.

    • sousvide replied:

      Rusty — Thanks for doing the work on that. I’m definitely going to give it a try, as I want to get back to combining the smoker & sv for pork shoulder again. Meantime I’ve mostly been using the sv for eggs, fish, steaks, and pork tenderloin, doing butts & ribs purely in the smoker.

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